FW: FW: Birds into windows

To: "" <>
Subject: FW: FW: Birds into windows
From: Steve Read via Canberrabirds <>
Date: Tue, 21 Sep 2021 11:43:18 +0000

Hi all – like Harvey, I have no problem with use of the word ‘platelets’ for buttonquail feeding depressions. They look like little plates, hence platelet.



From: Canberrabirds <> On Behalf Of Harvey Perkins via Canberrabirds
Sent: Tuesday, 21 September 2021 12:12 PM
To: Geoffrey Dabb <>
Cc: Canberrabirds <>
Subject: Re: [Canberrabirds] FW: FW: Birds into windows


Personally, I'd consider the use of the term (platelets) in a bird forum, specifically about button-quail, to be perfectly acceptable. 


Irrespective of the derivation of the term, and the fact that in medical/physiological speak platelet is a non-cellular cell derivative involved in blood clotting (which is also not a well known term in general parlance), 'platelet' has become a well-known term among birders familiar with this group of birds.


I personally have a much bigger 'beef' with the use of alternate instead of alternative, with the use of that instead of who when referring to people, and a swag of other mis-used language.




On Tue, 21 Sept 2021 at 11:12, Geoffrey Dabb <> wrote:

I do hope this will not sound pedantic, but I am raising this as a choice to be made about how we refer to something.  From the viewpoint of general usage, ‘platelets’ is not really appropriate.   My Macquarie   4th ed. says a ‘platelet’ is ‘a microscopic disc occurring in profusion in the blood, and acting as an important aid in coagulation’.


Birdlife Australia’s Birds in Backyards avoids the _expression_ when discussing the habits of the PBQ:


What does it do?


Painted Button Quail are active during the evening, night and early morning, feeding on the ground. They are usually seen in pairs or small family parties, searching for seeds, fruit, leaves and insects. They create distinctive "soup-plate" depressions when foraging, by spinning alternately on either leg and using the other to scrape away the leaf litter, leaving circular depressions in which they look for food.

In relation to PBQ feeding, HANZAB says: ‘Scratch and glean, spinning on alternate legs in litter to create distinctive circular depressions where they feed.  Up to 15 depressions can be made in 1.5m².’  interestingly that observation is from Canberra, Grahame Clark in 1974.  Unfortunately the source (Canberra Bird Notes 2 (10): 16-17) cannot be retrieved from the archive on the COG website  (not by me, anyway)


HANZAB has a longer discussion of feeding ‘depressions’ in relation to the Black-breasted Buttonquail, beginning with ‘Create distinctive crater-like depressions (platelets) in litter …’


So I suppose ‘platelets’ might be here to stay, just as a convenient _expression_. We should remember, though, that it might need some explanation for people who do not know about this special use of the term.




From: Canberrabirds <> On Behalf Of Geoffrey Dabb
Sent: Monday, 20 September 2021 9:21 AM
To: Canberrabirds <>
Subject: [Canberrabirds] FW: Birds into windows


Thanks Richard and Jack.  I’ve thought from time to time that this woodland species, with unusual breeding behaviour, does not get the attention it deserves.  Some years ago a friend sent me a pic of a dead one in her paved yard next to Farrer Ridge.  I now think it more likely to have died from an in-flight collision with the substantial house rather than wandered in from the reserve. A look at the archive shows scattered mentions over the years – like the one Alastair S found ‘drunkenly’ walking by the road past FSP (Oct 2005).


Locally, I have come across them mainly on Mount Ainslie, possibly  a stronghold, but they can turn up in most local woodland patches of any size, I’d think.  Factors mentioned as relevant to occurrence include hazard-reduction burning and good rains.


Then there are the distinctive ‘platelets’, an obscure term for the saucer-shaped depressions, typically in soft dry bare earth, they make when feeding.  In the past, Con has mentioned these on Black Mountain.  I’ve also seen them on a hillside at Bluett’s, quite a lot of them.  Noel Luff found those when he was laying out an orienteering course.


The suggested local movements are something else to think about. I sometimes wish the short labels used for the ACT bird list were more colourful.   ‘Uncommon, breeding resident’ might be accurate but could there be room, as well,  for something like ‘crepuscular wanderer’?


From: <m("","jandaholland");" target="_blank">>
Sent: Monday, 20 September 2021 8:41 AM
To: 'Richard Allen' <>
Cc: 'Geoffrey Dabb' <>; 'Canberrabirds' <m("","canberrabirds");" target="_blank">>
Subject: RE: [Canberrabirds] Birds into windows


Many thanks Richard, yes, I had seen those, but in the probably mistaken belief that they don’t fly far had opted for the closer less recent records.  In my experience PBQ are reluctant to flush, much less so than for example the Brown Quail I have been seeing over recent months, though I have experienced them jumping vertically for 3-4 m when disturbed after dark. 


In fact it’s been hard to find any readily accessible information on whether they can fly for any distance, with the HANZAB entry (now nearly 30 years old) noting that “when flushed, fly fast, weaving through the trees ….. usually a metre of two above the ground; usually fly some distance before dropping and running.”   However, it also notes that patterns of dispersal may be linked to seasonal factors such as rainfall ...., and that the Aust. Atlas (RAOU one) claims that individuals may fly long distances. 


While the Birdlife Australia Atlas does not clearly show seasonal movement, this may be because it is related to conditions rather than season.  So it appears that like other species such as crakes which can suddenly appear if conditions are right, they may fly considerable distances to take advantage of conditions. 


Jack Holland


From: Richard Allen <>
Sent: Sunday, 19 September 2021 6:45 PM
Cc: Geoffrey Dabb <>; Canberrabirds <m("","canberrabirds");" target="_blank">>
Subject: Re: [Canberrabirds] Birds into windows


September records from ebird show a couple at each of 3 sites that line up with your place Geoff. Campbell park (Steve H), Isaacs ridge (David D) and Wanniassa hills (myself). 



Sent from my iPhone


On 19 Sep 2021, at 5:26 pm, jandaholland--- via Canberrabirds <> wrote:

Geoffrey, very interesting, it must have been a big surprise.  Checking the eBird Australia records from 2010 reveals single records of single birds at Callum Brae in June 2020 and June 2021, and 2 birds on Red Hill in September 2019, possibly from where yours was heading S.


Around noon yesterday a not so loud bang on our deck window alerted me to a bird which tried to flutter away but then came to rest under the deck table.  I thought it was a female blackbird but on closer inspection the barred tail first alerted me it was an adult Fan-tailed Cuckoo.  It’s the first I’ve had in my Chapman GBS site since the 2003 fires, though there have been a few local records, particularly over the past couple of years, at both Narrabundah Hill and Cooleman Ridge. 


A slightly happier ending though.  After recovering for about 15 minutes, on my approach it flew to a casuarina about 10 m away, where it recovered for another 15 minutes before it was last seen about 10 minutes later foraging quite actively there.  


Jack Holland  


From: Canberrabirds <> On Behalf Of Geoffrey Dabb
Sent: Sunday, 19 September 2021 3:58 PM
To: Canberrabirds <>
Subject: Re: [Canberrabirds] Lock down protocaol for Birders



It was not necessary to leave my LOCAL REGION to investigate the loud THUMP on the window at sunrise this morning.  I found an ex- Painted Buttonquail that must have been commuting south at some speed at about 5m above ground level. Now in the freezer.









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